Personal & Mental Health Benefits
Trees Improve Our Health
Trees can help us think better and feel better. There are studies that show that people with access to trees and forests have much better overall mental health and personal health. Here are a few topics we will talk about.
Exposure to forests and trees:
- Boosts the immune system
- Reduces stress
- Improves mood
- Increases the ability to focus
- Increases energy level
- Improves sleep
Trees Help Boost our Immune System
While breathing fresh air outside, we breathe in phytoncides. Phytoncides are airborne chemicals that trees and plants give off which protect them from insects. According to ny.gov, people don't know that this airborne chemical contains antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities which helps them fight diseases, so when we breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number of white blood cells which means we are able to fight off more virus-infected cells.
Trees Reduce Stress and Improve Your Mood
We all know one way or another that being surrounded by nature can make us feel good. Whether exercising in forests or simply looking at trees reduces blood pressure as well as the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline. When listening to the sounds of the forests, the scent the trees give off and the fresh clean air it gives us a sense of comfort. According to Dr. Qing Li, in Japan they practice forest bathing or shinrin-yoku. Forest bathing is not exercise like hiking, it is just being surrounded by nature, using our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Researchers found when using the Profile of Mood States test after forest bathing trips it significantly decreased the scores for anxiety, depression, anger, confusion and fatigue.
Trees Help Increase Your Focus
Our lives are constantly busy with jobs, school, and socialization. When trying to focus on multiple activities or just one for a long period of time it can mentally drain us, which is known as Directed Attention Fatigue. According to nytimes' blog, there are two forms of attention: "directed" attention and "involuntary" attention. We use directed attention most of the time when we are working and studying, while involuntary attention is just an automatic response to certain events.
Children and adults with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing the mental fatigue. For more information on how trees helped with ADHD check out another nytimes post here.
Trees Bring Community & Social Value
Tree plantings can provide an opportunity for community involvement and empowerment that will improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Trees are on our streets, apart of our parks, and in our backyards that create a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Ultra-violet rays are known for causing skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Trees help shield from direct sunlight which in turn reduces the UV-B exposure by about 50%. Trees can provide protection for children at recess, playgrounds, or wherever children spend time outdoors. This increases our quality of life by bringing natural life and wildlife habitats into urban settings.
Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood or town a new identity and encourage pride for their neighborhood. Trees can be used for Tree Houses for children or as a creative and spiritual inspiration for adults. Trees have provided an escape for us throughout the ages.
We tend to overlook the importance of trees and the positive effects that they bring us every single day. If we take care of our trees they will take care of us. For more information on the importance and value of trees check out our previous blog Importance and Value of Trees Part 1.
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